These all happen in areas that should be familiar to any LotRO player. Places like Bree, Tuckberry and Weathertop -- except that since the War of the Rings is beginning, there's something new going on. A couple examples given to us were scourge of the Shire-like event happening at Tuckburrow, or an attack at Bree where people have been locked in the Prancing Pony with the invaders outside ready to set it on fire. Plus, every Skirmish has nine randomizable alternate objectives. Basically, Turbine is doing everything they can to make these just as fun on the hundredth time as they are on the first.
Loot drops and Skirmish Points will probably help extend the replay value. Those points can be spent on various rewards ranging from ways to improve your soldier buddy to actually getting meaningful rewards typically gained elsewhere in the game. Jeffrey did point out that these rewards are meant to compliment, not supplant, the ones already in place throughout the other activities in LotRO.
There are limitations to how often you can do some of them, because Turbine doesn't want them to become too grindy. They don't want it to become so involving that people stop playing the rest of the game. However, we will point out that the game tracks all of your accomplishments in Skirmishes and puts it all in a big in-game window and publishes it into leaderboards at MyLotRO just so you can show everyone how awesome you are -- we can't imagine that those limitations aren't going to be too restrictive.
Updated mount functionality
The first time you summon your horse after getting Siege of Mirkwood, the game will prompt you to turn it into a skill. No longer will mounts take up inventory space, which tells us that Turbine is planning for mounts to become much more plentiful and central to LotRO in the future.
"If this isn't Turbine hinting at their next expansion's setting then they've got a pretty cruel sense of humor"
Even more importantly, mounts are being made more functional. No longer will they simply move players around the game world quickly. With Siege of Mirkwood
you can talk to an NPC on your mount, buy stuff from a vendor, cross land block boundaries, enter large spaces on horse without dismounting, emote on your horse -- you can even name your horse. If this isn't Turbine hinting at their next expansion's setting then they've got a pretty cruel sense of humor.Odds and ends
Shared account storage will allow players to move items between characters of any level on the same server. We were told that there are some limitations to what a player can put into storage in order to avoid a "mulefest" which sounded like a pretty awesome name for a band, to us at least. We were also told that in the future players who've filled up their storage may have an opportunity to earn more space.
Combat has gotten another upgrade as well, and according to Jeffrey one of the largest updates to the system that Turbine has ever done. The changes are being made at a base level, so nothing changed in what a player does in any given battle. Essentially their whole effort was to make combat feel much snappier, and the biggest change is that auto-attack is now completely interruptable by skills. Other adjustments have been made to the timing of animations, but we were assured these changes would only alter the feel of the combat and not the result. If you're still worried or confused on the topic, Jeffrey informed us that a dev diary is coming out about this very topic, so that should clear the air.
As we said in our post, the expansion is coming this Fall for 20 bucks as a digital expansion. For everything we just discussed above, that seems rather like a fair price to us.